Mom makes sure the kids get to the doctor’s office for all of their inoculations. Daughter drives Dad to and from doctor appointments and even speaks to the doctor about concerns she has about his health. But how often do these women, and so many women just like them, take the time to consider their own health? Sadly, the answer is not nearly enough for far too many women. Thousands of women die each year because they never found the time for their own doctor’s visits…until it was too late. Women are taught from childhood to be nurturers, the caretakers, to put aside their needs in favor of others.
It is important that women find the time for regular check-ups with their doctor. Most of the diseases that strike women are breast, cervical, ovarian, and other reproductive cancers, are silent-killers in that they usually do not produce any noticeable symptoms until in an advanced state. This makes it harder to fight these diseases and the prognosis is usually less of a positive one, when treatment is begun in the later stages of a disease.
Women should have a yearly pap-smear and cervical-scrape. This helps your doctor to identify and treat yeast, urinary-tract, and other infections as well as identify early signs of pelvic inflammatory disease or the beginning stages of cancer in a reproductive organ.
It is important for a woman’s health to take the time for monthly self-breast examinations. This can be done in the shower by raising your arm above your head on one side of your body and with the opposite hand feel your breast for any lumps or changes to the breast, then alternate to the other breast. Also look at your breast and if you note any changes in color, or texture in one or both breasts, see your doctor immediately. This isn’t necessarily a sign that you have cancer. Hormonal changes and aging can cause changes to your breasts, but it is best to have them checked by your doctor soon after noticing them to rule out cancer. Women should have their first Mammogram at age 40 to get a baseline image of your breasts, then every 2-3 years after that until age 50 when you should have them yearly. If you have a family history of breast cancer, check with your doctor to determine at what age you should begin having mammograms and how frequently. October is Breast Awareness Month! Celebrate it with a self-breast exam and if you turned 40 this year-get a mammogram.
Although heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and strokes strike both men and women, they tend to kill more women then men when they strike. This is most likely due to the hormonal differences between men and women. For this reason women should have their cholesterol, blood pressure and weight checked regularly, and even schedule an echo-cardiogram to look for signs of cardiac problems.
There is another disease that strikes males and females, but tends to strike women more and that is: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Characterized by excessive exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes flu-like symptoms, this disease can be hard to diagnose. In some cases it is because a doctor thinks these are asymptomatic or just "in the mind" of the women with these complaints. Many women too discount these symptoms chalking it up to their busy lives. If you have these symptoms for more than a week, consult your doctor. Treatment is available. If you’re doctor does not listen to your complaints, ask for a referral to another doctor.
Women are beautiful, spiritual, strong, and special. Acknowledge your gift of being woman by taking care of your health.